Efforts to establish PAU praised at Africa STI Forum

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Maina Waruru
Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net


Delegates at the African Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Human Growth, underway in Nairobi, have been praising efforts to finalise host campuses for the Pan African University.

Earlier this year Algeria was named as the successful host of the northern node. It will host the Institute of Water, Energy and Climate Change, which is expected to open in September.

The University of Younde, Cameroun will host the Governance and Planning node while a   yet to be agreed upon university in South Africa will handle Space Sciences.

The other nodes hosted by the university of Ibadan in Nigeria and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya, are already open, having commenced operation in September last year.

JKUAT hosts the institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation, while the University of Ibadan hosts the Earth and Life Sciences institute.

“This demonstrates the African Union’s commitment to promote science and technology as a key driver of economic development,” said Erastus Mwencha, deputy chair of the African Union Commission.

“This university (PAU) will seek to link scientific research to the private sector to enhance capacity for innovation among African scientists.”

Mwencha told the opening of the African ministers’ session on the final day of the Forum that besides providing core funding for the PAU, the Commission is also managing a series of European Union research grants worth $US9 million each. Calls for research submissions were announced in January this year. Last year 36 African scientists benefited from the grant scheme.

Separately, ministers discussed efforts to increase spending on ST&I and noted that only Tanzania and Tunisia have allocated 1 per cent of GDP to research in response to a 2010 agreement between African countries.

“All the other countries remain way below the agreed percentage, with South Africa coming closest by allocating 0.93 per cent to research activities  in [its] budget last year,” said Margarate Kamar, Kenya’s Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister.

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